What is it about retaining clients that is so hard for companies to understand. If you treat them well and provide them with either one or all of the following, you will retain your customers that want what you provide: a great value, a great price, and great service. So how will implementing a “mutual benefit” philosophy help your company retain clients? By your employees, your vendors and your clients understanding that what you are providing them, helps each and every one of them.
We all know that in today’s business environment, data drives decisions. What people forget is there are two types of data: quantitative data (statistics, verifiable, defines ) and qualitative data (approximates, characterizes, describes). It is important to have both, of course, it’s easier for companies to collect quantitative data, (i.e., customer profiles) around size, product mix, frequency, etc. The reason I say it’s easier, is because you can send out surveys, analyze invoice data, research 10K’s and other financial data. This is what’s currently called big data; the stuff that IBM and others are calling the next big idea in technology and customer analysis. While this data is extremely important, and the analysis of this data to the minutia is helping large companies make very specific decisions in manufacturing, retail, healthcare, etc., it’s missing the key to the analysis without qualitative data.
What’s harder for companies to collect is qualitative data. Why is qualitative data so hard to collect, because it take the interaction with your employees, your vendors and your customers. This interaction must include data such as the political climate within all these entities. To gather qualitative data, your company must have a means to collect, store and utilize the knowledge that’s within these entities. What this means is that the analysis of qualitative data is best done by people and not computers, since it includes the emotional, personal and cultural aspect of data.
How Does It All Work With Mutual Benefit
So how does all this data along with a “mutual benefit” philosophy improve client retention? When the employees understand how the gathering of this data will help them sell more and at a higher profit margin, they will begin to collect the qualitative data needed to support the quantitative data. When the vendors realize the value of sharing qualitative data with their customers that understand how to use the data, they will begin to share that data with you. Most importantly, when your customers understand how, by sharing (truthfully) their thoughts, desires and goals with you, they will benefit. Once each entity understands that everyone is tied to the others success and “mutual benefit,” they will work with you to stay on as your client.
It’s important that you do not take advantage of this trust and charge your existing customers more than new clients. Time and time again, focus groups have shown that when customers are acquired through discounted programs, they will have no loyalty. Even loyal customers get frustrated and leave when they find out that new customers are paying less than they are. Don’t let your client acquisition hurt your client retention.